Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shooting with Natural Light - Dappled Shade

I've briefly introduced you to the different kinds of light and taught more about shooting in harsh full sun. For this post we're focusing on dappled shade. Other names for this kind of light include partial shade, half shade, medium shade, semi-shade... whatever you choose to call it, this is the kind of shade that has bits of light peeking through.

Let's say you're shooting portraits outside in a natural setting in a less than ideal timeframe. What can you do? Look for dappled shade. It's not the best option for portraits but it's still better than full sun. You can find dappled shade anywhere where there are trees or trellis - anything that creates some shade but also lets light through. If you're lucky there will be a really thick tree with lots of leaves that you can place your subject under. This can get pretty close to even light cast from buildings and solid objects. If the sun is lower in the sky but still too harsh, you can use dappled shade temporarily.

Shooting portraits in dappled shade isn't ideal, but it can work. Remember it always depends on what you're shooting, what you need, what you have to work with and what you want for the shot! The time frame for perfect light is so short, so I've almost always shot in a combination of dappled shade, even shade, sunrise/sunset, etc. This helped me get a lot of different shots during a session. In the example below, the sun was still very strong for certain locations so we found some shade to work with. Notice the bits of dappled light that are peeking through.

In the example above, we found a really thick patch of shade, but you can still see a tiny bit of dappled light coming through. Mostly it's on his shirt and on her legs. This is still pretty good light.

If you move in even closer in this location, you can utilize the light without getting the dappled light on your subject. The light peeking through now becomes a bit of bokeh behind the subject. And just look at that gorgeous, natural light!

The next time you're out shooting in a natural setting, look for dappled shade. Dappled shade can be helpful and provide fantastic light, especially when the sun is still a bit too harsh to shoot directly in.

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